Page 1


open invitation


Show Clients All You Can Do

The Profitable Art of Lettering

Number 225 | march 2014

Sponsored by Canon




READY FOR THE FUTURE, HERE TODAY. Picture a typical day. It likely means printing backlits in the morning, a rush job printing banners over lunch, then an afternoon of printing double-sided foam board conference signs — plus, whatever else comes through the door. With an Océ Arizona® Series printer you can capture these opportunities and deliver award-winning image quality and never skip a beat. Featuring a true stationary flatbed design, a roll media option, and up to eight ink channels, the Océ Arizona Series flatbed printers give you a competitive advantage. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT US TODAY!

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> ADA Processing > UV LED Printers > Exhibit Design






IS AN AERIAL WORK PLATFORM AS WELL AS A CRANE. The Manitex SkyCrane is a true workhorse. Beyond an array of standard features, models can offer multiple tool and lamp box options to best suit your needs. It can be installed on a variety of commercially available chassis which makes it a perfect fit for large fleets where chassis standardization is preferred.

• Working heights from 62' to 130' • Crane capacities up to 12 tons • Standard features include self-leveling baskets with hydraulic rotation When you buy a Manitex product, you’re buying reliability and peace of mind. Our products are backed by UPTime, our commitment to support thousands of units lifting every day around the globe.

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e UPTim k UPTra t UPNe n a REM Heavy, Gothic Franklin Font: 110% l, 25 Deg. Strech: Horizonta Shear:


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March 2014


28 28

Open for Business BY JEFF WOOTEN

Invite your customers to see all that you can do in-shop.

34 40

In Tune with Wraps BY ASHLEY BRAY

A sign shop hits all the right notes on a unique wrap project.

Understanding UV LED Printing BY MIKE ANTONIAK

LEDs add versatility, power savings, and maintenance to UV printing.


Air Legends on Display BY JEFF WOOTEN

Prints and plaques at an airport honor WWII’s Tuskegee Airmen.

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015-805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564) (Bluechip Int’l, Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Agreement # 41094515) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices. Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions printed or digital version: 1 year US $48.00; foreign $96.00; foreign, air mail $196.00. 2 years US $75.00; foreign $150.00; foreign, air mail $350.00. BOTH Print & Digital Versions: 1 year US $75.00; foreign $150.00; foreign, air mail $250.00. 2 years US $102.00; foreign $204.00; foreign, air mail $404.00. Single copies are $36.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2014. All rights reserved. Contents may not be


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

40 52

Designing for Public Spaces BY LORI SHRIDHARE

Adding variety to exhibits.

58 66


Efficient production of ADA signage.


A cat’s eye view of an awning/canopy redo.

reproduced without permission. For reprint information contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or For Subscriptions, & address changes, please call (800) 895-4389, (402) 346-4740, Fax (402) 346-3670, e-mail or write to: Sign Builder Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

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How-To Columns

APRIL 2014 April 23-26: The 2014 ISA International Sign Expo returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. (

MAY 2014

20 16

Rock Therapy

Communicating a Brand

Departments 16 Communicating a Brand BY MARK K. ROBERTS

Installing new messaging for a communication company’s vehicles and equipment.


Painting rocks for fun and profit proved good medicine.

26 Estimating Start-Up Costs BY JIM HINGST

Line up your finances before venturing out to open your own business. open invitation


Show Clients All You Can Do

The Profitable Art of Lettering

Number 225 | march 2014







Sign Show


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk

Editor Jeff Wooten opens doors to peer into the many different personalities of sign shops.

The latest news from around the industry.

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.

Lori Shridhare talks with Firesign Design of Portland, Oregon about some of the best advice on display.

The Keys to


On the Cover > ADA Processing > UV LED Printers > Exhibit Design


A Hot Rod Red vinyl-covered piano decorated for the TV special Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale. Photo: 12-Point Signworks.

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

MAy 8-10: ISS, the largest tradeshow dedicated to the decorated apparel industry, has added a show at the new, state-of-the-art Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. ( MAy 29-30: The NSSA New England Sign Expo 2014, featuring exhibits, information, and training for sign companies, will be held at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. (

JUNE 2014 June 1-5: LIGHTFAIR® International 2014, the annual architectural and commercial lighting tradeshow and conference, is putting together the largest Conference in its twenty-five-year history at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. ( June 5-7: Covergence: Crossing Lines, the 2014 edition of the SEGD Conference, is being conducted at the Loews Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. (


The New Mimaki JFX200-2513 flatbed UV-LED printer.

Smaller footprint. Bigger possibilities.

Featuring a space-saving 4' x 8' landscape bed

Versatile, Small Footprint Flatbed UV-LED Printer The new JFX200 printer introduces a smaller footprint flatbed design with a 4’ x 8’ landscape print mode and bed size small enough to fit in most sign and graphic print shops. All electronic controls, ink fill/delivery areas and vacuum adjustment panels are mounted and accessible from the front of the unit, allowing accessibility, even in tight spaces. The JFX200 is fitted with the latest LED UV lamp curing technology and features a unique ink delivery system that further increases the flexibility you expect in a next generation UV cure flatbed printer.









© 2014 Mimaki USA, Inc.






by jeff wooten

March 2014, Vol. 28, No. 225 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Opening Doors

executive offices

President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Publisher Arthur J. sutley

Looking at the personality of your shop.


editorial editor

Jeff Wooten

323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 212/620-7244; fax: 212/633-1863 managing editor

f you recently ventured onto social media networks of any kind, you may have noticed an uptick in a lot of your friends and/or followers using something called “BuzzFeed,” which featured online personality quizzes that allowed respondents to post their results to questions like “Which state do you actually belong in?” “Which classic rock band are you?” and “What font are you?” (Wyoming, Fleetwood Mac, and Times New Roman, to answer those few of you out there interested in my outcomes here. And here I was betting on Helvetica.) After breezing through these time-wasting exercises, it dawned on me that it was a bit surprising that someone had not taken the time to develop a test that would determine “What type of sign/print shop are you?” There are already some obvious possible generated answers: “Family-owned business handed down from generation to generation,” “Franchisee that enjoys having support,” “Small shop that works hard for word of mouth,” “Large company with not enough shifts in the day,” “Traditionalist that still uses paintbrush tools (and not the Photoshop® kind),” etc. Looking over this month’s lineup of features and columns, another result here could very well be: “Adventurous shop that likes to think outside the box and explore new opportunities.” This psychological profile could range from projects to clients to marketing programs. So how adventurous are you? I read an article that pointed out one of the habits of people with strong minds is being able to step out of their comfort zone. I think the same holds true for identifying strong sign makers. Over the following pages, you will find stories about wrapping musical instruments in 6

55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863

order to land high-profile gigs (p. 34), the vast products you can offer and markets you can service with UV flatbeds (p.40), and the things you need to know for making a path to land your footprint into exhibit design (p. 52). (Note: And these subjects are already in addition to the projects one can delve into with CNC routers, dye-sublimation, and digital signage technologies that we have featured in previous issues.) One concept to attract customers that you might not have considered is hosting an open house. On page 28, we speak with Mike Dean, co-founder of Impress/DC Media in Miami Beach, Florida, about a successful open house his company recently held that has generated buzz, jobs, and clients. How did he plan it? “We targeted all of our existing customers,” he says, “and we reached out to everybody who had sent us any kind of work (even the smallest of jobs) within the last two to three years. We also contacted ad agencies and other printers in the area to let them know what new flatbed equipment we had and what we can do with it.” And the benefits of conducting an open house? “We wanted everyone to kind of experience the new things we can do,” he answers. “Some people had no idea and were amazed. We ‘opened’ the doors to being able to get even more work from existing customers, as well as work from new types of clients.” It goes without saying that running a sign shop day-to-day is probably already an adventure, but why not get out of that comfort zone and take more chances in playing Indiana Jones to satiate your customers’ needs? It sure beats sitting back and filling out another personality trait quiz, right? “Oh, wait. I’m most like what kind of marsupial!?!?”

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Ashley Bray

55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7220; fax: 212/633-1863 contributing writers

Butch “superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, Jim hingst, Peter Perszyk, Mark roberts, lori shridhare, randy Wright art

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams Designer emily Cocheo production

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers circulation

Circulation Director Maureen Cooney advertising sales national sales director

Jeff sutley 212/620-7233; fax: 212/633-1863 west & midwest regional sales manager

Kim noa

212/620-7221; fax: 212/633-1863 Sign Builder Illustrated is published monthly. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files of cover and layouts or hard copy reprints, please call Art Sutley at 212/620-7247 or e-mail asutley@ Circulation Dept. 800/895-4389

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Stir up excitement mixing these removable cast films into your next wrap project. And enjoy the benefits of 3M quality, reliability, service and the industry leading 3M™ MCS™ Warranty. Available in carbon fiber, brushed metal, satin, gloss and matte finishes. Out of the Box No printing. No overlaminate. Open the box and start wrapping. Great Handling 3.5 mil dual cast film provides just the right amount of rigidity with no application tape. Easy Installation Slideable and repositionable pressure-activated adhesive with non-visible air release channels for virtually no air bubbles.

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LED Lamps

Replace Incandescent Bulbs at Washington, D.C. Hotel

Torrance, California— LED lights and lighting products provider LEDtronics®, Inc. ( has announced that it helped the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., eliminate the time and costs involved in maintaining old, incandescent bulbs on their marquee canopy by replacing them with the latest in LED bulbs. “We have been using the old, incan8

descent bulbs in the marquee since the hotel was built in 2011, and they constantly burnt out and needed to be replaced at least once a week,” states Hilton Garden Inn Chief Engineer Santosh Borrison. “By switching to LED lamps from LEDtronics, not only do the lights provide a nice appearance, but we do not need to change the bulbs for years. “This saves us an extensive amount of

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

maintenance time and costs.” According to Gary Anderson, LEDtronics’ representative from Eastern Electronics, “The old lights on the Hilton Garden Inn’s canopy marquee were different because they consisted of mini screw-based lamps with polycarbonate globes on each incandescent bulb. “These lights were purely decorative, and we found that our standard, screw-in

bulbs designed for simple LED panel indicators and 12-voltage A/C worked perfectly for this upgrade project.” These Miniature E10 Screw Based T3-1/4 (9mm) LED Lamps directly replace incandescent bulbs 407, 502, 3708 (5/6V), 3724, 1446 (12/14V), and 1449, 52 (24V) with warm, white light. In addition, they offer up to 90 percent energy savings over incandescent bulbs (and

with a considerably longer life span). “Lumen maintenance of these white LED lamps is greater than 70 percent at 35,000 hours of operation, based on engineering testing and probability analysis,” states Anderson. “With the new LED bulbs, the Hilton Garden Inn has taken significant steps in reducing its energy and maintenance costs while increasing sustainability.”

Mutoh & Avery Partner for Car Wrap Training

Thanks to the new LED bulbs, the Hilton Garden Inn has increased its sustainability and reduced its energy and maintenance costs. Phoenix, Arizona— Mutoh America Inc., and Avery Dennison have partnered together again to offer the Car Wrap Training Program in 2014. Master installer Justin Pate will host classes. T h e Ave r y /M u t o h Ca r Wra p Training Program is designed to provide wrap installers with an in-depth understanding of graphic installation mechanics. The three-day workshop (optional third day for design instruction and certification test) will focus on all the steps needed to improve the quality and speed of car wrap installations. Class sizes will be limited to allow for more one-on-one teaching, and training starts at only $209. Along with the training, all students will receive a number of wrapping products valued at over $1,000, including an NT Cutter A-551P knife and Avery installer toolkit. The 2014 course schedule is as follows:

By switching to LEDtronics' Miniature E10 Screw Based T3-1/4 (9mm) LED lamps, the Hilton Garden Inn will not need to change out bulbs for years.

March 24-26: Appleton, WI Apr. 28-30: Pompano Beach, FL May 1-3: Hillside, NJ June 16-18: Wharton, NJ Aug. 18-20: Toronto, ON Sept. 11-13: Atlanta, GA Sept. 17-19: Phoenix, AZ Oct. 27-29: Seattle, WA To learn more, visit

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dispatches + Love Your Charity Wrap St. Paul, Minnesota— 3M Commercial Graphics, print conglomerate Vomela, and UASG installers recently teamed up to help a St. Paul charity increase its national visibility by creating a mobile billboard on its tour bus. The Love Your Melon Foundation ( is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to improving the lives of children battling cancer, and its bus tour covers sixteen stops across

the eastern United States donating hats to pediatric hospitals. With the goal to help create brand recognition during its tour, 3M donated the films and technical service expertise to wrap the foundation’s bus. “A great visual presence makes a big difference for an organization like Love Your Melon,” said Dave Deiss, technical service manager at 3M. Both Vomela and UASG donated ample hours over the holidays to complete the wrap in time for the tour. Love Your Melon’s bus was wrapped with 3M™ Envision™ Print Wrap Film 480Cv3, 3M™ Envision™ Gloss Wrap Overlaminate 8548G, 3M™ Scotchcal™ Perforated Window Graphic Film IJ8171, and 3M™ Scotchcal™ Optically Clear Overlaminate 8914. Vomela incorporated Love Your Melon’s trademark navy color scheme and logo to capitalize further on the foundation’s existing brand recognition.

DSA Phototech Lights Up ‘lette Macarons Carson, California— DSA Phototech’s ( custom LED light panels were recently installed at ‘lette Macarons located in Fashion Island, an upscale shopping area in Newport Beach, California. ‘Lette Macarons prides itself not only on delicious flavors but also a “kaleidoscope of colors”—both in its macarons as well as in its architecture and design. As a result,


it was essential to the company to showcase its graphics in the best way possible. The energy-efficient LED light panels evenly diffuse light with bright, white illumination and are being used to backlight the wall graphics showcasing ‘lette Macaron’s colorful cookies. This display was created to complement the overall store design, completed by Andrea Lenardin Madden, AIA, a l m project, inc. “‘lette Macarons was looking for s o m e t h i n g eye catching for their walls., and we are confident our work beautifully showcases their p r o d u c t s, ” s ay s DSA Phototech President Bob Riley. “So far, the feedback has been enormously positive.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

USSC Honors Randy Wright

Bristol, Pennsylvania— The United States Sign Council (USSC) recently chose Randy Wright (pictured, above right) of RKW Consulting in Montoursville, Pennsylvania to receive its prestigious Andrew D. Ber tucci Memorial Award for Service Above Self. The Bertucci Award is presented only when an individual within the organization shows extraordinary devotion to the USSC and whose work has made a significant contribution toward the betterment of the sign industry. Wright has been involved in the sign industry his entire career, having owned a sign shop and then holding leadership positions with various sign associations on a regional and national level. He has volunteered tirelessly to further the work of the USSC in the areas of electrical and fire safety. A long-time contributor to Sign Builder Illustrated magazine, Wright currently represents the USSC on numerous boards and code panels (such as UL and the NFPA, to name a few). Randy Wright is currently a consult to the USSC and assists members with any problems they may encounter in the areas of electrical and fire safety. He also recently volunteered to assist with the week-long crane certification classes to be held during Sign World International (Oct. 9-11). To learn more about USSC, call 215/785-1922 or visit



Photo courtesy: Serge Ferrai/Soltis 86

Signs are essential in branding retail locations so people can find their favorite coffee shop, lunch spot or grocery store. Signs should also complement the surrounding architecture and help tell the business’s brand story. Fabric—with its diverse array of colors, weaves and finishes—gives sign makers the ultimate versatility to achieve these goals for their customers. With eradicable vinyl fabrics, fabrics that take pressure-sensitive film and printable fabrics available today, there’s no limit on creativity. SIGNS THAT MARK THE SPOT Backlit signs are the ultimate location finder for passing motorists and pedestrians. Whether it’s a backlit sign raised high or an awning with a business name and logo, these signs work hard both day and night. Using a backlit fabric such as Eradi-Lite®, available in 13 colors, is the most economical way to create a branded sign. It has an eradicable surface for simple lettering and logos and a special blend of plasticizers and elastomers that maintain flexibility while resisting plasticizer migration, staining or abrasion. Or select Cooley Brite®, available in 20 colors, with an eradicable ink top surface; the White/White Cooley Brite is solvent, UV and latex printable. “Eradicable fabrics make it simple to create eye-catching designs and add logos to backlit signs and awnings,” said Steve Daegling, Awning Products Manager for Trivantage. “It’s durable, easy to handle and makes economic sense for many signage needs.” SIGNS THAT INFORM AND PROTECT Printable fabrics make awnings, canopies and shade structures into signage for hospitals, hotels, restaurants and nursing homes, where entrances may require weather protection and identification. Herculite® Natura™, a vinyl composite supported by a polyester substrate, has the look and feel of a woven cloth on both sides for a classy appearance, and it can be digitally printed. It features Rain-Kleen® II protective finish

that resists stains and mildew and with an eight-year warranty is a good choice where the application calls for durability. Cooley Weathertyte®, a polyester fabric with a vinyl/acrylic finish, also has the appearance of a textured decorative fabric and is digitally printable. It has an eight-year warranty and when used on awnings and canopies, provides weatherproof protection. CREATE A SOPHISTICATED LOOK Function drove the invention of the awning, but while today’s shade structures still offer practical benefits, they do so with sophistication thanks to technical advancements in fabric. For example, Sunbrella® awning fabrics create a stylish look while offering excellent fade and weather resistance. With a 10-year warranty, Sunbrella fabrics are durable against the elements, and graphics can be applied using Sunbrella Graphics System (SGS) Thermal Digital Film. Simply print the design on SGS film and using an SGS machine, apply it to the fabric for a clean, refined look. SGS film is also available in black for applying lettering to awnings, umbrellas and other shade creations. “Over the years, municipalities have restricted where backlit signs can be used, especially in downtown areas,” said Drew Nelson, Printable Fabrics Product Manager with Trivantage. “The Sunbrella Graphics System has a high-end appearance that helps businesses put their best foot forward and is ideal for installations that incorporate top lighting.” GET CREATIVE Printable premium mesh fabrics, such as Serge Ferrari Soltis® 86, Soltis, 92, Soltis 93 and Soltis 99 offer sign designers a method of shading a building while creating an immersive brand experience: print images, graphic designs, school colors or whatever your imagination conjures up to tell your customer’s story. Soltis fabrics are ideal for tension shade structures where you want to maintain a view from underneath the shade structure or inside a building but need to block some sunlight. From the outside, passersby see only the design printed on the fabric. “Signs can inform and inspire if you tap into the wide variety of fabrics available,” Nelson said. “And your creativity will help your customers’ businesses grow.”

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SignSHOW ARCHITECTURAL SIGNS Gemini Incorporated's New Plaques Web Site is a Multimedia Experience Gemini Incorporated’s completely redesigned plaques Web site ( offers visitors richer insight into the company’s complete line of plaques and plaque-related products. Browsers can easily navigate the site to find the latest Gemini specifications and up-to-date product news and information, while Gemini customers can log in to the Sign Pro area for additional exclusive content. Enhancements include: Optimization for computer, tablet, and mobile; enhanced image gallery and videos; a step-by-step guide to ordering a plaque; the ability to upload artwork directly to Gemini (thus speeding up the order process); a password-protected area with pricing, sales tools and downloads; and a new online tool lets customers take information they have from their clients about style, material, size, depth, text, finish, and mounting options to create a quote. 507/263-3957

LIGHT boxES Perimeter LED Lighting Provides an Economical Option for Large Format LED Light Boxes Optima® LED StretchLite with Perimeter Lighting from Stylmark is an economical lighting option specially designed for large format, oversized light box applications. It also combines the brilliance, uniformity, and dramatic dimensions of tension fabric displays to help designers, retailers, and visual merchandisers achieve unrivaled visual impact and create an attractive merchandising display. Designed to accommodate readily available tension fabric graphics, the Optima LED StretchLite with Perimeter Lighting is particularly well suited for large format graphics—from conventional sizes to custom applications that can cover an entire wall. The light box frame has a slender edge and an invisible perimeter-tensioning feature, which gives graphics of all sizes a sleek, frameless appearance. Users can quickly change out images with ease. 877/866-3033;

RoUTERS/ENGR AVERS Kern Releases 2014 HSE Laser System Kern Laser Systems announces upgrades to its large format HSE product line. Kern is the leading supplier of midrange CO2 laser systems (with table sizes ranging from 52-by-25 inches to 80-by-120 inches and various laser sources available up to 400 watts). A new direct-drive gantry system has been implemented that simplifies the calibration and maintenance schedule. A metal cutting feature has also been added to the HSE line along with an upgraded height following system that is three times faster than previous models. “With the ability to cut stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum, sign shops that fabricate metal are starting to realize that our 400-watt laser can handle a large portion of their current cutting needs,” says Derek Kern, president of Sales for Kern Laser Systems. 218/631-2755;

MultiCam’s Fourth-generation CNC Knife Option is Available on a Wide Range of Cutting Platforms First introduced in 2005, MultiCam’s CNC knife option was originally designed to cut fiberglass insulation material using a pizza wheel knife mounted on an HVAC plasma system gantry. Subsequent versions included an oscillating function for cutting rigid foam/rubber insulation. The advent of MultiCam’s knife-cutting technology opened up markets in graphic arts, digital printing, packaging, textiles, and many other industries. Today a significant percentage of all machines shipped by MultiCam have an optional knife assembly (in addition to the primary cutting head). The company’s new 2014 CNC knife has fully programmable, 360-degree servo rotational capabilities. Mounted on a precision THK bearing assembly, the compact design is available in either a single- or dual-knife configuration. Optional cutting heads include oscillating, drag, kiss-cut, pizza wheel, creasing, and bevel. Knives are standard on all digital finishing machines and are optional on all CNC router and plasma machines.

Roland EGX Engravers for ADA Signage Applications Roland DGA’s EGX-400 and EGX-600 rotary engravers are offered with optional ADA Signage Kits, providing you with everything needed to produce high-quality, tamper-resistant signage that complies with all federal and state ADA regulations. Each of these powerful, user-friendly devices is capable of engraving a wide variety of materials (including plastic, acrylic, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and wood) with speed and precision. Servo motors generate plenty of torque for smooth, fast engraving, while FFP “look ahead” technology anticipates tool path for greater accuracy and energy efficiency. Bundled engraving software is also included.


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

SignSHOW S I G N b L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U b ST R AT E S Gilman Brothers Introduces Three New and Improved Graphics Boards The Gilman Brothers Company announces improvements to three of its premier product lines: Ryno Board® heavy-duty, paper-faced foam boards; Duraplast® all-plastic foam boards; and Eaglecell™ recyclable, all-paper boards. The boards offer improvements in durability, structure, and direct-printing performance derived from a new, high-compressive foam center for Ryno Board HD and Duraplast HD, a new geometrically structured core for Eaglecell, and new, brightwhite, color-managed printing surfaces for consistent color reproduction. 800/852-4220;

S o F T WA R E - A P P S / D E S I G N / P R I N T/ R o U T E / E ST I M AT E New Internet Advertising Platform Brings the Job Site Sign Online We all have customers who see our completed work and ask who did that? Well now finding the answer to that question is easy with—the virtual extension of the job site sign. The free, patent-pending Android mobile app (iPhone version coming soon) serves as an advertising venue for local service industry business professionals and the trades, allowing their completed jobs to advertise for them. Using mobile devices, businesses pin their jobs, GPS location, and images of projects to Google Maps. They then upload their contact information onto the app. Foliopin focuses its search directly to service industry businesses, separating them from retail, family photos, and random postings on Google Maps. Any person using the app can input the location’s address or use GPS at the location to access the business contact information for the creators of signs, sculptures, murals, etc.


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

VINYL/VINYL FILMS/SUPPLIES Value Vinyls Adds New Testing Equipment Value Vinyls, Inc., has announced the addition of a Q-Sun Xenon test chamber, which is the ultimate research and development and quality control tool for testing materials that are exposed to direct sunlight, sunlight through window glass, or indoor lighting. The chamber also features a water-spraying unit that creates exceptional realism with controllable condensation and humidity that is critical for testing many materials. With the Q-Sun Xenon test chamber, Value Vinyls is able to simulate the damage caused by full-spectrum light, temperature, and moisture that occurs over time in just a few days or weeks. The addition of this chamber allows the company to review materials for fading, yellowing, crazing, cracking, and hazing. Testing to standards like ASTM G155-98 or ISO11341 will allow the company to bring its customers the most stable products for their outdoor and indoor environments. 877/716-6651;

WAY F I N D I N G / I D E N T I T Y S I G N A G E SignPro Systems Announces New Products, New Catalog Thirty new products—including sign stands, slim LED light boxes, towers, and signage frames—have been unveiled in the new 2014 product catalog from SignPro Systems, the modular wayfinding signage division of Orbus Exhibit & Display Group. For example, the Cube Tower (pictured), available in black or silver snap frames, has the capability to display multiple graphics and messages on all four sides. With front-loading mechanisms, graphic changes are easy. Meanwhile Trappa Snap Frame LED Light Boxes feature an ultra-slim one-inch profile and easy-to-snap frames. Behind the graphic, an LED diffuser panel ensures even light distribution and brightness. No tools are required, making the Trappa Light Box stylish, eye-catching, and convenient. And the Telescope Banner Stand provides versatile and convenient ways of displaying rigid graphics. Extended fully, this tripod stand supports graphics up to seventy-two inches tall and features gripping clamps. 866/724-1270;

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March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Mark k. roBerts


Communicating a Brand

Installing new messaging for a communication company’s vehicles and equipment.


itting at my desk recently, I fielded a call from a new prospective client asking me for some help. Their communication company, Proactive Energy Services, had just rolled out a new branding program (with new logo and color schemes), and they needed the full complement of accompanying visual marketing products. Taking a tour of their facilities, my contact showed me several trucks, equipment trailers, communication trailers, and numerous doors to identify. His instructions were to take their new logo and propose decals and markings to be installed on these surfaces. My first step, to help this new client here, was to take several photographs and conduct accurate measurements of each and every truck, trailer, door, and window. The satellite trailers were the first I had to identify. Each side of the trailers has a nice, flat

surface to affix custom decals and magnetic signs. In addition to the flat surfaces, each trailer also has a large satellite disk mounted on an extendable and retractable mast. Back at my shop, I took the specifications to my computer and created the files for the decals. The colors for their company are black, blue, and silver (with white backgrounds). The decals were sized appropriately to fit the specific flat surfaces on each side of the trailers. After creating the decals to their individual specific sizes, I was on my way back to the job site to install my identity creations. Working inside their shop, I was meticulous about cleaning every surface on the trailers where a decal would be applied. I began with a light wipe-down first with mineral spirits and, after that, with WindexÂŽ. Finally I wiped down all the surfaces with clean water and towels. Maximum adhesion is our goal, and we never

Removing transfer tape from the adhered decal.


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

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Removing the old logo from above the double doors.

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Adhering decal to side of pick-up truck cover.

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

want to hear that one of our decals has come loose on a truck traveling down the highway. It only takes a few seconds more to get the surfaces squeaky clean. A special “radius” version decal was created for the parabolic disk on each trailer. I was pleasantly surprised when the parabolic decals adhered to the surface of the satellite dishes. The bases for the decals were cut from Oracal vinyl with air release. I use this material extensively on vehicles (mainly for the adhesion and the bubble-free appearance on the surfaces when it’s applied). I measured the other flat surfaces on the trailers and created custom-fit decals to identify and promote the company while it’s parked in various locations around the country. In addition to these decals, several sets of magnetic signs were made for use on various truck doors and other metal surfaces. In a few short hours, the project was completed to my client’s satisfaction. Best of all, the trailers and satellite dishes have that “factory” look, which I always strive to achieve with these types of projects.

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Adhering decal to parabolic communications satellite dish.

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Butch “Superfrog” Anton


Rock Therapy Painting rocks for fun and profit proved good medicine.


hen I was recuperating from my various chemical applications from chemotherapy (after being diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer back in 2009), I didn’t have a lot of strength. I definitely couldn’t do much lifting or fabrication around the shop. So I took on small projects to keep my mind active. One of the things I did was get out my paint brushes and start painting again. I figured I could lift a No. 5 quill and push around a little paint on my palette. I was a little rusty in the beginning, but after a week or two, I got my mojo back. I painted every carrying case for the saws and drills with my shop’s name and what was in them for quick i.d. One day, I was sitting on the dock by my home looking at the bottom; it was littered with rocks.

This happens every spring when the ice pulls up the rocks from the bottom. I use to clean up the rocks every summer and throw them up on the shore—but sure enough, they’d be back at the bottom of the lake in the spring. I’m pretty sure Mother Nature was messin’ with me. Back in the ’70s (when I’d letter and drive racecars), I’d also paint rocks. I called them “Frog Eggs.” I’d paint them for every occasion, and I’d give them to customers for appreciation, used them for wedding presents, etc. Staring at those rocks sitting in the bottom of the lake, I started thinkin’ about painting them again. So my grandson Brendan and I slipped on our wetsuits and dove in. The water is only about eighteen to twenty-four inches deep, so it was easy to find the rocks. Back at the shop, we laid the rocks out on a table and scrubbed them with a wire brush using

Photo 1.


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

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Photo 3.

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soap and water. Once they were dry, we applied a coat of Helmsman Spar Varnish to them. The next day, I began lettering them using Ronan water-based Aquacote. Not only do they have great color choices, but they dry fast—meaning I could put multiple colors on the rocks in a matter of minutes. Brendan and I even painted the huge rock in the front yard with them (Photo 1). My goal was to get ready and try my rock concept at flea market venues. I practiced on rocks for family and friends. Once I solved all the problems associated with painting rocks, I was ready for my first flea market. I divided the rocks into small, medium, and large sizes. I charged five, ten, and twenty dollars. They would take me about ten to twenty minutes top to paint. I really wasn’t concerned about making a lot of money, as this was therapy for me. I put my supplies under a popup tent, where I could also get out of the sun while painting. (Note: Chemo + sunshine is a no-no). Also the paints dry very fast in direct sunlight, which causes

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Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

your brushes to load up in the heel of the brush, so constant cleaning is required. I solved this problem by having a bunch of brushes. I took milk jugs and cut them off about six inches high. I then put one inch of Rapid Tac’s Rapid Remover in the jug and, using clothespins, clipped the brushes to the side of the jug with the tips suspended up to the metal ferrules. This kept the brushes fresh and ready for lettering. I’d wash the brush out in water before use. When it comes to hand lettering, I’m a snapper at heart. A few layout lines with a Stabilo pencil and I’m ready to crank out some letters. I don’t use patterns; I just make up letter styles as I go, so everything doesn’t look the same. But this bit me in the butt when I painted thirteen rocks for this one family all different with funky colors (Photo 2). The only problem was when the kids all came to get their rocks, Jaden liked Judy’s rock and Russ liked Justin’s rock, etc. So now when I get a request for a bunch of rocks for one family, I use the same font and colors for everyone (Photo 3). I found that not everyone wanted a rock, so at my second show, I also painted old grayed boards, which proved very popular. I have a plentiful supply of old 8-by16-foot boards that I’d gotten from the railroad that runs by my shop. They had a snow fence that ran about three blocks long, and when they were taking it down to toss away when redoing the rails, I asked them if I could have the boards instead. I cut the boards about sixteen to twenty inches long and notched the ends. I then ran them through the router to put a cove on the edges. I could either paint the edge or leave it natural. I seal these with a coat of Helmsman Spar Varnish. When I finished either a rock or a board, I sprayed a seal coat of fast-drying Frog Juice on it. This allowed for delivery in about thirty minutes. After my first show (which lasted five hours), I made $426 dollars in cash and did $343 dollars in credit card sales on my phone. I even had residual sales in commissioned pieces totaling about $1,200. This was so much fun for me that I ended up doing one show a month throughout 11:32 AM the summer, which also really helped in my rehabilitation.


By JiM Hingst

Business Management

Estimating Start-Up Costs

Line up your finances before venturing out to open your own business.



hy would anyone want to start up their own business? Within the first eighteen months, over half of small businesses fail. Still the people who have the guts (or are crazy enough) to start their own businesses find ways to prevail. Some just need the freedom. Others believe that they can do it better than the next guy. And most have supreme confidence in their abilities, believing that they can do anything that they set their minds to. My hats off to anyone who goes his or her own way. Unfortunately the statistics indicate that, even with a great business idea along with a positive mental attitude and core competency in the technology of the business, success is not assured. Poor planning and insufficient funding is a major reason that new businesses fail. As Napoleon rightfully observed, the battle is won or lost before the first shot is ever fired. Napoleon knew the importance of good planning. And based on what he said, you’d think that calculating start-up costs and formulating a

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

business plan is a simple, straightforward process. Well, it’s not as easy as it looks. When it comes to a business plan, all of your theorizing may not survive reality once you’re open for business. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do any planning. Instead once you’re open for business, your plan will need to change to meet the requirements of the market. As you’re compiling your start-up costs, write down everything that you think you’ll need. You’ll probably rack your brain and come up with a pretty comprehensive list, but no matter how hard you try, the fickle finger of fate will throw you a curve. All of a sudden, you’ll encounter trials, tribulations, and expenses that you never imagined. Here are some areas it should cover: Start-up Expenses. In the start-up phase of your business, you’re allowed to write off a portion of your start-up expenses. That’s why you’ll need to carefully record all these expenses: legal fees, accounting costs, state incorporation fees,

business permits, insurance, initial payroll expense, rent, sales and marketing expenses (presentation materials, logo design, Web site development, brochures, business cards, etc.), and office supplies. Assets. This includes: office equipment (computers, copiers, etc.), office furniture, shop equipment, and inventory. Financing. How much cash do you have on hand? How much money do you have in the bank? What about investments (what you or others put into the business)? Or loans? This information will also provide you with a good idea about how much cash you will need to get your business started. Your cash balance consists of all the money that you’ve raised as an investment along with all of the money that you’ve borrowed minus all of your startup expenses and your assets. “The major reasons why most businesses fail are an improper understanding of cash flow, as well as mismanagement and inadequate planning of working capital,” says Tim Reimer, controller for Nekoosa Holdings, Inc. “Covering fixed costs is the easy part of the financial equation. “But planning inventory purchases and expected inventory turns, along with expected payment terms, are critical to the success of a fledgling business. No one wants their money tied up in inventory or receivables for too long.” Carefully track all of the starting expenses that you incur prior to opening day and segregate them from any of the shop and administrative expenses incurred after you open the doors. Don’t record the start-up costs as expenses on your profit and loss (income) statement. Also you can’t charge any of your assets as expenses. They’re two different animals. Expenses you can write off (deduct from taxable income). Assets are not deductible but can be depreciable. The rules covering how much you can deduct and when you can take the deduction varies depending on the total amount of start-up costs. For businesses with startup costs of $50,000 or less, the first-year deduction can be as much as $5,000. Because IRS rules can be a little tricky (and change from year to year), consult with your accountant or tax advisor regarding any start-up deductions. “Fixed assets, such as your shop equipment, aren’t regarded as start-up expenses but can be written off through

ation,” says Reimer. “The depreciable tax value of a particular asset will be treated and depreciated differently depending on the expected life of the asset.” In addition to calculating the one-time start-up costs, also list the recurring fixed monthly expenses. Fixed costs are exactly what you may think they sound like: They don’t change! Fixed costs for your shop might include: employee wages, rent, utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, etc.), shipping

costs, supplies, and phone expense. Until you get cash coming in from sales, the first few months will be tough, so you’d better have enough in your checking to cover those fixed expenses. Understanding your start-up costs—as well as your fixed monthly expenses—is also critical in determining your break-even point and developing your sales forecast. With thorough planning, you’ll improve your odds of success as you pursue your new business endeavor.

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March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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Open for Business Invite your customers to see all that you can do in-shop


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014


After twenty years being housed in a 3,000-square-foot facility in Miami Beach, Florida, print provider Impress/DC Media ( had been experiencing tremendous business growth. Because of this, they moved last fall to a larger, 10,000-square foot space in Wynwood, the art district in Miami famous for its vibrant outdoor art displays. Impress/DC Media has been making a name for itself with unique large format and wallcovering installations featuring local artists’ photographs. To enhance its outdoor signage and general commercial printing offerings, they recently added an HP Indigo 7600 Digital Press and HP Latex 850 Printer, as well as a Zßnd cutter, to its lineup of in-shop digital

all photos: Impress/dc medIa.

printing technologies.

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Attendees were excited to be able to interact with operators running the machines. To see more photos of this event (as well as the 20-by-80-foot building wrap), visit

Impress and DC Media are actually two separate entities—the former handling sheet-fed digital and the latter specializing in large format output. Impress started up twenty-some-years ago focusing on high-quality work for the area’s fashion/modeling industries. Meanwhile DC Media Co-Founder Mike Dean noticed that demand for large format printing was very high in the waterbased world around the early 2000s and co-started DC Media using large format printers and laminators. Dean and his company resold printing services to Impress, eventually “impressing” the owner enough to bring them on-board. In addition to serving the general public, the companies also broadened its focus beyond fashion to create P-O-S/P-O-P Duratrans and backlit displays for luxury timepiece and fragrance companies found in duty-free store. They’re also actively involved with special events like the Art Basel international art shows (the Cannes Film Festival for art) held in Miami Beach. This past November, to showcase its new location and expanding in-house capabilities, the companies brought local photography to life at an open house stra30

tegically timed to coincide with the local Wynnwood Art Walk, an event held every second Saturday of the month when all the art galleries and businesses in the area are open and people come in for free drinks and look at art. “It’s a big social gathering in the area,” says Dean. Impress/DC Media wanted to use this opportunity to let their existing customers know all they can do and who would,

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

in turn, then spread the word about them to their friends and clients. “We reached out to everybody that may have sent us any kind of work (even the smallest job) within the last two to three years,” says Dean. “We also contacted ad agencies and other printers to let them know about the new equipment we had, the capabilities of the new flatbed we’d just installed, and our cutting capabilities.”

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The night involved DJs, food and beverages, and producing giveaway stand-up corrugated displays of various celebrities (Breaking Bad, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, etc.). “People liked having their pictures taken with these cut-outs,” says Dean, “and they enjoyed interacting with the technicians and operators running the machines and learning what they did.” Since these existing customers also brought along their friends, close to 250 to 300 people were in and out of Impress/DC Media’s building that night. “They were just really excited about printing. We thought that only printers got excited about printing!” laughs Dean. DC/Impress even ran actual jobs live during the open house for everyone attending to see. “A customer came in on Friday night needing us to print onto tiles for a mural that they were putting in a restaurant opening up on Monday. So I told them that, because of the time constraints, the only thing I could do would be to run it during our open house,” says Dean. “And that’s what we did. “The client gave us the artwork and the 12-by-12 tiles to print on from Home Depot®. We loaded them up on the HP Scitex FB6100 large format printer, and they looked beautiful!” The owner of the restaurant even stopped by during the event to see the printing action of his tiles and was “impressed” with the process. “They had no idea that one could print onto tiles,” says Dean. “So this really opened people’s minds to let them know what we can do for them.” Getting their actions out to the public included even more than an open house. Viewing the building murals in the area painted by local artists, Dean knew another way to demonstrate their vinyl capabilities during Art Walk was to put up a 20-by-80-foot wall wrap mural featuring a collage of images from wellknown area photographers and artists. This wrap was printed on 3M™ Scotchcal™ 3624 with 3M™ Scotchcal™ 8524 overlaminate output via their HP LX850 latex printer. It covered two sides of their building exposed to the street. (Note: The digital files were a mix of JPEG and vector art put together in Illustrator™ and finished off for print in Photoshop™.)


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Installation of the wrap involved a heat gun and a special foam roller. “They’re four foot-by-twenty-foot panels with one-inch overlaps,” says Dean, “and we paneled them evenly.” Everyone who saw the building wrap was amazed by it. “Hopefully we’ll get a couple of more jobs from it,” says Dean. Currently Dean would like to hold an open house every quarter (targeting the same second Saturday night of the month.) “We work a lot with the interior design community, so we might invite designers over for the next one and show them the wall décor we do,” says Dean. “Printing onto wallpaper has been pretty big for us.” In fact, the biggest challenge in putting this open house together was trying to figure out which pieces of equipment and offerings they wanted to showcase. “For this one, we decided to focus on our new machines’ capabilities and perform live demos of them in action,” says Dean. He adds that the element that made this open house such a success was being able to introduce his customers to all their offerings.


Guests enjoyed having their pictures taken with the corrugated stand-up displays of celebrites that were cut out and given away at the open house event. “Most of our customers were completely unaware of our other abilities,” he says, noting that, with the investment in new equipment, they’re able to take on 40 to 50 percent more work than before. “We wanted everyone to experi-

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

ence all we do. “These customers would’ve previously requested only a banner or a poster from us, but then they saw we could also print onto acrylic or wood or another substrate on a daily basis.”

W r a p s / B y a s h l e y B r ay / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

all photos: 12-point signworks.

A CNC router is brought in for the finer details.

12-point signworks wrapped a piano and a bass in “Christmas red” vinyl for kelly Clarkson’s holiday special.


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014


In tune WIth wraps A sign shop hits all the right notes on a unique wrap project.

12-PoiNt SigNWorkS ( is a sign company that has always marched to the beat of its own drum. The full-service sign & design company in Franklin, Tennessee works on everything from dimensional pieces to exhibit projects to wraps. But it’s the custom, creative jobs that the shop enjoys working on the most. “We definitely look at ourselves as more of a creative company,” says Rich Novia, creative director at 12-Point SignWorks, “offering creative solutions through digital media and fabrication solutions. For us, it’s the big projects that really get us going and allow us to be designers and fabricators.” The shop got just the kind of job it likes when music star Kelly Clarkson’s management approached them about wrapping a piano and a bass for use in her Christmas special, Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale. Word of mouth earned the shop the gig: Clarkson’s management called on 12-Point SignWorks after finding out they had previously wrapped pianos for Alicia Keys and other musical acts. 12-Point SignWorks had some creative freedom on the wraps as the management company only requested a “Christmas red” vinyl. “A lot of our clients give us a lot of freedom as to the materials, the finishes, and the things that we choose,” says Novia, “I think we’re starting to get the reputation where people come to us and say, ‘what do you guys think we should do?’” The sign company selected 3M™ Scotchprint® Wrap Film 180-G13 Gloss Hot Rod Red vinyl to wrap both instruments. The material’s ability to stretch around the complex curves of the instruments was important, as was the durability of the finish since the instruments would be travelling. Removability was another factor as the wraps would only

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


this was the first time the shop had wrapped a bass instrument, and its unique shape and lack of flat surfaces provided a bit of a challenge. be on for rehearsals and the show— about two months. “It has to come off,” says Novia. “These are expensive black lacquer finishes.” With the material chosen, 12-Point SignWorks ran into its first challenge— how much vinyl to order? “It’s always tough with material usage. For us, we always buy ten-, twenty-, and fifty-yard rolls whenever we can,” says Novia. “But I don’t really know how

many other people are going to want a ‘Christmas red’ wrap.” The shop gambled and ordered only ten yards of the vinyl. “I could buy a twentyfive- or fifty-yard roll,” says Novia, “but it would eat into our profit pretty good. And then it would sit here.” Novia compares wrapping instruments to working on exotic cars. “I can’t have razorblade marks on those cars, and I can’t have those mistakes on a

$25,000 piano,” he explains. “We have to approach it very methodically and with caution.” Novia also says, on unique jobs like this one, the trick is to proceed slowly. “A lot of people rush into it, and they automatically just start pushing vinyl on it,” he says. “I always tell the guys who wrap stuff in here, including myself, to really take the extra five or ten minutes to get familiar with the unique piece

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There was more cutting required on the piano wrap, and the shop used knifeless tape and knives to get the job done.

Two installers completed the piano wrap, with additional employees stepping in to help place the larger pieces of vinyl.

you’re going to do. “If you really get to know the piece beforehand, you can set a plan on how to attack it. The biggest thing with those types of unique objects is hiding your seams and tucking the vinyl into areas where it can’t be seen. And I think you really need to plan for that before you just start throwing vinyl on it.”

Bass. This was the first time the shop had wrapped a bass instrument, and its unique shape and lack of flat surfaces provided a bit of a challenge. 12-Point SignWorks started by disassembling the instrument. Luckily one of their employees, Chuck, is an avid musician and knew his way around the bass. He was able to


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

disassemble it for wrapping and then reassemble and retune it before it was shipped back out. A seamless wrap wasn’t possible, but the shop was able to hide the seams in the beveled edge along the side. They used knifeless tape on the side to achieve a smooth finish and to avoid damaging the bass. “For the most part, the whole front and the back are all one piece. Then there’s a strip seam down the center around the edges where it comes together,” explains Novia. It took one installer a day-and-a-half to finish the bass. A combination of heat and tugging got the vinyl to hug the instrument’s curves. Additional installers jumped in at the end to complete the last-minute touches on time. And time was certainly of the essence— as the shop received the instruments on a Wednesday night and only had until that Friday afternoon to complete the wraps and ship the instruments back out.

It took two installers about a day-anda-half to finish the wrap, with additional employees stepping in to help place some of the larger pieces of vinyl. (Note: The shop also wrapped the piano stool in the red vinyl.) 12-Point SignWorks also had some creative freedom in the wrap process, and they let some of the black show through on areas of the piano where they thought it looked good. “A lot of that stuff is done on the fly when you start to

wrap something,” says Novia. When the wraps were completed, 12-Point SignWorks only had about a yard-and-a-half left of vinyl. “We were actually getting kind of nervous,” says Novia. “When you do material like that, you have no room for mistakes. If we ruined the top putting it down, that was it, it would blow the deadline.” The shop ended up making the tight deadline and was able to add another unique wrap job to their set list.

Piano. Like the bass, 12-Point SignWorks started by putting the piano on its legs and then disassembling it. (Note: Chuck’s knowledge was once again “instrumental” on this disassembly.) “We took the top off, as well as a lot of the key covers,” says Novia. “We removed as many parts as we could.” (Note: According to Novia, wrapping this way gives a lot of the vinyl good bite under certain areas.) Installers even took off small parts like hinges so that they were able to wrap underneath them. “It looks better,” says Novia, “and even though [the wrap] was for two months at the most, we still wanted to put our best foot forward on it.” Wrapping the piano was a bit easier because the instrument had a lot of flat, smooth surfaces. However the curve in the back of the piano did prove a bit difficult. The shop’s previous experience wrapping pianos helped them to tackle the complex curve. “We always cut a little extra, and we always try to test fit pieces as best we can,” says Novia. With the help of heat and some squeegees, the installers got all of the vinyl down. They also did some cutting with knifeless tape and knives where necessary. “On the piano, you do cut a little bit more,” says Novia, “especially around in the key areas—you just can’t get the tape in there.”

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


D i g i t a l P r i n t i n g / By M i k e A nto n i A k / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /






UV LED Printing






nyone considering adding or upgrading a UV flatbed this year has one more evaluation point to consider: What kind of light system illuminates all the opportunities the large format printer allows? LEDs—the light emitting diodes that have transformed everything from backlit sign displays to household lighting—are making their way into UV printing systems, as well. In fact, the technology introduces so many benefits, it could become the printing industry standard for light-activated print systems in years ahead.

The Future of UV “There’s no doubt LEDs are the future for UV printing,” predicts Paul McGovern, marketing and promotion manager for Mimaki USA ( “It’s just a matter of more [manufacturers] adapting the technology and educating their customers about its many benefits.” In that regard, suppliers may have to address misconceptions that were shaped with the launch of the very first UV LED printers. All UV print systems use light to activate and cure specially 40

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

formulated inks after they have been applied to the substrate. That ink only responds to specific wavelengths of light. “Cure affects adhesion and both the chemical and physical properties of the ink film,” points out Johnny Shell, vice president for technical services at the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) ( “Light from an LED is emitted in a very narrow bandwidth. “The mismatch between ink requirements and the emitted energy were not in sync when the [LED] technology first entered the market, so there was a stigma associated with it.” That’s changed: “Today’s inks have been matched to the narrow spectral output of UV LED,” reports Shell. With these refined ink formulations, UV LED flatbeds can deliver all the benefits of UV printers—faster print speeds, print durability, and a greater choice of print media—while adding even more media choices and introducing significant savings on energy and maintenance. “UV inks stick to almost everything and can provide additional market and applications opportunities for a shop

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to grow it’s business,” says David Conrad, director of marketing for Mutoh America ( Additional advantages of UV print systems include: + The option of printing with white ink; reduced dry times; + A diverse selection of media; + Direct printing to some materials; and + Reduced requirements for head cleaning and maintenance (since the ink doesn’t cure until its exposed to light).

A Cool Light Source UV LED systems have the potential to enhance and expand these benefits of UV printing, due to their reliance on a cooler light source for curing the ink. Prior to the development of affordable LED technology, UV flatbeds had been designed around mercury vapor or metal halide lamps to cure the ink. These bulbs have proven very effective for curing inks at specified wavelengths, but the bulbs them42

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

selves must heat up to operate efficiently. Over time, this on/off cycling and the heat these bulbs generate causes them to burn out, requiring costly replacements. And although the UV ink can be successfully cured for adhesion to a broad range of substrates, the associated heat from the bulbs made it an impractical solution when printing to some materials. As a “cooler” light source, LEDs address these few limitations of UV print systems in ways that can make these systems even more productive and versatile. Unlike traditional bulbs, LEDs can be instantly turned on or off in response to an electrical charge, without the need to heat up or cool down. Consequently these lighting systems have significantly longer life—even out-performing the service life of a press. That alone eliminates the need to replace bulbs and the associated maintenance costs. “UV LED lamps last up to 10,000 hours, ten times longer than conventional UV lamps for dramatically lower

Photos (this PagE): roLanD Dga.

UV LED technology offers sign shops the ability to print on virtually any type of substrate, which opens up opportunities in new markets such as specialty applications and customizations.

tional and maintenance costs,” says Steven Yu, product manager for Roland DGA’s ( line of UV printers. “They emit very little heat, which makes them much more versatile with respect to the media they support.”

More Media Choices

Among the opportunities that sign shops and graphics providers can address with UV LED printing systems include prototyping, membrane overlays, and even product packaging. most anything. And if adhesion problems arise, there are primers available that allow UV inks to adhere to metal, plastics, and other difficult substrates.” Of course there’s also another benefit: reduced energy usage. Annual savings from the light system can reduce energy consumption by at least a third, and any UV LED systems themselves require

much less power to operate. “They can be operated using a standard electrical outlet without an additional power supply,” says Yu of Roland’s line of VersaUV LED printers. “No special electrical installations are required.” (Note: Yu estimates this will save sign shop owner/operators “thousands of dollars in electric bills alone each year,

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Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Photo: roLanD Dga.

Yu notes UV LED printers support a wide range of substrates—from PVC, leather, paper, and board stocks to foils, BOPP (Biaxially-Oriented Polypropylene), PE (polyethelene), and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) films. “The company’s most compact systems can even print directly to three-dimensional objects,” he adds. McGovern also sees the expanded media choices as a selling point . “You can run a lot more heat-sensitive media— acrylics, thinner materials, and darker colors (especially black),” he says. “These materials aren’t always practical on traditional UV flatbeds.” Meanwhile Shell says this new generation of UV printers expands what has been part of UV printing’s core appeal. “The ink,” he explains, “will adhere to

while significantly reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.”) That can make these systems a better value over the life of the press. “UV LED technology has a better overall cost of ownership than metal halide systems, plus it expands the versatility of a print system due to the cool-cure it provides,” adds Shell. Conrad highlights another area of potential savings from any UV LED system: “Because UV ink becomes solid with no harmful VOCs being emitted into the environment, there really is no need for expensive ventilation systems,” he says.

Photo: mutoh america.

Costs and Savings In the final analysis, Shell believes LED technology delivers better overall cost of ownership than metal halide systems. There is a slight tradeoff to realizing all these benefits though. Up-front comparisons against conventional UV printers will show that LED systems and the special inks they require currently cost more. “But you’ll save tremendously on power bills and system maintenance and easilyRoland_VSi_Launch_SBI_Half.pdf expect to save 37 percent on1

energy alone,” McGovern assures those considering a UV LED system. Shell agrees, “The technology typically costs more in hardware and ink than many of the other platforms, but these costs can be offset by the advantages brought by the technology.” Sign shop owners who make the investment will be positioned to offer customers more choices and specialty services. Shell sees opportunities in such varied applications as prototyping, packaging, interior décor, membrane overlays, and merging specialty applications. “The unique capabilities of UV LED 8/30/13 11:20 AM printers—including the ability to print

on virtually any type of substrate—make these systems unbeatable for packaging prototype applications,” says Yu. With these systems, it’s possible and practical to print on actual press materials, for quick turnaround on prototypes that will look and feel exactly like the finished product. “UV LED also allows for eye-catching varnish and embossing effects that add ‘pop’ to signage products,” adds Yu. “UV LED is a tremendous technology,” sums up McGovern. “Once more manufacturers start to embrace it, their customers will see (and experience) its benefits for themselves.”









March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


L a r g e F o r m a t / By j e f f wo ot e n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

air legends on display

all photos: rl smith graphics, co.

A CNC router is brought in for the finer details.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014


Prints and plaques at an airport honor WWII’s Tuskegee Airmen. Every so often, a sign maker will come across a project that turns into a signature “pet project”—a job that captures one’s interest and entails a little extra personal effort. For Ron Smith, owner of print provider RL Smith Graphics, Co. ( in Boardman, Ohio, this turned out to be a three-wall recognition exhibit honoring the legendary Tuskegee Airmen of Western Pennsylvania currently on display at Pittsburgh International Airport. After being asked by one his customers to sit in on a meeting with the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh organization that was putting together this project, Smith’s know-how and presentation skill so impressed everyone that he and his shop were hired to be the general contractor in working directly with the Pittsburgh Airport to develop (design + build) this exhibit.

The exhibit focuses on the men who made up the squadron of officers, pilots, and support staff of the Tuskegee Airmen rather than their P-51 Mustang planes.

RL Smith also created and installed eight wall panels that add to the story of these pioneering U.S. military pilots using tinted tempered glass and stand-offs.

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Installers applied the cast vinyl graphics much like wallpaper—the vinyl was already pre-glued, so they removed the liner from the back of the material to expose the adhesive and pressed it onto the walls. “I was very humbled on this project to work for some of the men who served their country during World War II and helped overcome the segregation of our armed forces,” says Smith. The pioneering Tuskegee Airmen hold a distinct place in America’s military history. They were the first black pilots and navigators to serve and fight for our country, seeing combat in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War

“I was very humbled to work for some of the men who served their country during WWII and helped overcome the segregation of our armed forces.” —Ron Smith

II. The exhibit was intended to highlight that the largest contingent of these legendary Airmen—almost 100 (out of nearly 1,000)—actually hailed from Western Pennsylvania. After several brainstorming sessions, Smith and the organization were able to finalize their vision for the exhibit that would be installed in an area of the airport that once served as a US Airways customer service counter: Three walls

For this exhibit, RL Smith used untouched mono-and sepia-toned photos in order to capture the timeliness of the images. 48

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

featuring photos of the Pittsburgh area and the Tuskegee Airmen during and after the war. “We intentionally chose not to emphasize the P-51 Mustang planes,” he explains, “instead deciding to use the displays to celebrate the men who made up the squadron of officers, pilots, and support staff.” Smith has plenty of experience working with graphics—starting out as an apprentice in a print shop, then working his way through the industry up to manager of a Quick Print shop, and ten years later, purchasing the company and renaming it RL Smith Graphics. Eventually Smith noticed shifts in the print industry and recognized that, to stay in business, his shop would need to stay ahead of market trends. So he grew his large format department and assembled a strong design team. This way, RL Smith could handle any vision that a customer brought to them. Today its eight employees provide customers with a well-rounded range of prints from conception to completion: vehicle wraps, backlit signage, barricade graphics, floor and window graphics, and even “traditional” printing. The shop currently uses a Mimaki CJV30160 sixty-three-inch printer/cutter, a Seal 62 Base laminator, a Xerox 700 Digital Color press, a Hamada 2 color press, and bindery equipment. During initial meetings with the organization to find out what they wanted out of this exhibit, the RL Smith team decided to create symbolism using untouched mono- and sepia-toned photos. “Although we did feather in the photos using Photoshop,” says Smith, “we employed minimal photo manipulation, in order to capture the timeliness of the images.” Instead of making high-resolution scans, Smith opted for photographing the pictures provided to them at 1200dpi. Smith points out that not only were the photos provided to his shop by the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial organization of a vintage variety (dating back to the 1940s) but many were glued and matted into frames. “I didn’t want to deface or destroy the integrity of the originals,” he says, noting an area photographer helped them here. Smith’s company also used this opportunity to create storyboards for proofing. “In Photoshop, we superimposed a

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res version of the photos onto the space in the airport,” says Smith, noting that he’s sold many projects by utilizing these types of composites. “This takes out all the guesswork of what the final project will look like.” The company then began the process of issuing purchase orders to the appropriate vendors for substrates, materials, and mounting accessories. Since the exhibit is set up to be a long-term fixture for the foreseeable future, Smith printed the graphics for the mural panels out onto KAPCO Cast Air Release Vinyl and 1.5-Mil Cast Matte Lamination using their Mimaki CJV30160 sixty-three-inch printer/cutter. “Cast vinyl is built to last,” he says. The installers applied the graphics onto the drywall at the airport in a similar manner to applying wallpaper (only without the paste). “The vinyl was already pre-glued,” he says. “We removed the liner from the back of the material—which exposed the adhesive—and pressed it onto the walls.” The headers on this display are studmounted injection-molded Minnesota


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RL Smith mounted eight tempered glass plaques to the wall using Pizazz Mono Mount XXL Aluminum Standoffs, which better represent the color of the vintage P-51 Mustangs.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Plastic Letters from Gemini, Inc. “We taped a paper template to the wall and used it to help guide us where to drill the holes for the studs,” says Smith. “Then we applied adhesive into each hole and pressed in the studs on the back of the letters.” Smith was also asked to create eight wall plaques that would further inform the public about the story of these Tuskegee Airmen. After being concerned with acrylic’s ability to resist scratches, Smith opted to use imprinted tempered glass with standoffs here. “I ordered both tinted and clear .6250-inch-by-24-inchby-36-inch glass panels with polished edges,” he says. “However tinted glass matched the background of the mural, so that’s what we ended up using.” RL Smith imaged these plaques on his HP Scitex FB500 flatbed. “I knew the ink would scratch off, so we added a clear tempered glass against the base,” explains Smith, noting that this would both prevent scratches to the image and ensure easy maintenance. He chose Pizazz Mono Mount XXL Aluminum Standoffs to mount the plaques, because this style represented the color of the P-51 Mustangs of the era. Since these were the largest size of standoffs available, they allowed the plaques to stand off the wall about 1-1/4-inch. Smith and his team screwed wall anchors into the drywall. They then threaded a screw through the XXL standoff and into the anchor. Adding to the finished exhibit, Smith suggested a new ceiling plan consisting of black tiles, low-voltage black track lighting, and recessed black cans to wash the walls. Smith positioned the low-voltage track lights at such an angle that shadows are created through the glass onto the mural minimizing glare. “We determined spacing by wall widths and placed the glass panels proportionately,” he explains. The organization, the airport, and the public love the finished results (installed this past October). Plans call to eventually add a fifty-two-inch LED monitor with A/V content to the exhibit. And Smith didn’t just stop with his work for this display: His company also provided the organization with fortyeight-inch retractable banners (featuring many of these ’40s photos) to set up at its fundraising events.

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E x h i b i t S i g n a g e / By Lo r i S h r i d h a r e / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Designing for

Public Spaces F

or designers, exhibit work provides just the right blend of opportunities that allow for creativity across the spectrum of media—from illustration to digital. “Exhibit design provides an interesting mix of engaging visual elements, design challenges, educational messaging, and mixed media,” says Kristen Dicharry Travis, a Portland, Oregon-based designer and art director who currently runs her own studio called Firesign Design ( Travis developed a love for display design when she began working as a print designer for a large sports brand, which gave her plenty of occasions to work on tradeshow displays. While exhibit work provides creative challenges, it can be time consuming, so she usually limits the number of these types of projects to take on. “But I always enjoy immersing myself in 52

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

the material,” she says. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot about subjects I never expected to through this kind of work.” When working on a museum project, Travis will provide graphic design to the exhibit and manufacturing experts, who typically have already worked with their clients to establish a master plan and overall style guide for the exhibit. “There will often be a collection of approved assets—drawings and dimensions for the planned exhibit structures themselves, photography, fonts, even colors—and I work to put the puzzle pieces together in an appealing and impactful visual story,” she says. For a project that does not have the style pre-planned, Travis works directly with the client to determine their goals and to help them clarify the story they want to tell.

Photo: formations, inc.

Adding variety to exhibits.


Graphic design created for an exhibit at the Louisville Slugger Museum.


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One of Travis’s recent projects that illustrates the versatility of exhibit work was a demo gardens installation at the Clark County Pacific Community Park Natural Gardens in Vancouver, Washington that was set up to educate the public about different garden types that can improve outdoor spaces, such as bee-friendly gardens, xeriscaping, and dog-friendly gardens. The client was looking to develop a large installation to explain the park’s mission and function, along with a map of all the gardens. And because this was an outdoor installation, the panels needed to be weatherproof. Travis says that one of the biggest challenges here was accurately and carefully interpreting the landscape architect’s drawings in order to build a map reflective of all the plant types and arrangements represented in each garden. “The map needed to be relatively detailed but couldn’t overwhelm the viewer with too much complexity,” she says. “The end result looked really great. 54

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Photo: disPlayworks & sPot color studio.

“The illustrator on the project had created such beautiful art that we were able to incorporate into the main panels (and accompanying brochures), so it was a very colorful and engaging piece.” In considering some of the issues in designing outdoor versus indoor displays, the most immediate concern is weather. “Outdoor displays (especially here in the Pacific Northwest) have to withstand months of rain, wind, sun, sleet, and snow, so that can limit printing techniques and materials,” she says. “But I’ve seen really beautiful things done with very sturdy materials like metal and wood. Even plastics/acrylics have improved over time.” In terms of design considerations for outdoor exhibits, Travis notes that these displays often rely on a series of individual panels, rather than a large wall-wide grouping of elements that are found with indoor displays. “So the design has to tell the story about a particular area and also tie into the greater exhibit design, without being

Display for Clark County Pacific Community Park Natural Gardens. able to rely on a large collection of display elements near it,” she says. Another consideration with exhibit design is audience. When designing for children, for example, additional vibrancy and a sense of fun is paramount. “I always try to bring in more color and movement when designing for kids,” says Travis. “It’s also a great opportunity to play with fun typography and illustrations.” And when it comes to interactivity, adults beware: Kids aren’t easy customers. “Structurally speaking, interactivity has to be really intuitive and sturdy,” she says. “Kids nowadays are so used to digital interactivity, that if an interactive element isn’t quick to interpret, they’ll move on. “That said, kids are naturally curious, which means designing for them creates a fun challenge—it forces me to think like a kid while I work.” Another component of exhibit design March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


can be wayfinding, which would typically include maps. One tip that Travis emphasizes is to keep wayfinding design as simple as possible, while still making it eye-catching and attractive. “The primary purpose is to direct people where they want or need to go,” she says. “The message needs to be clear, universal, and quickly understandable.” As Travis works on wayfinding for large-scale projects, she works on the

maps with an eye on balance. “I want to indicate where the specific elements in the environment are,” she says, “but I don’t want to add so much detail that it’s distracting from the main path I’m trying to indicate to the viewer.” Travis stresses that the design elements (colors, fonts, iconography) should directly tie into the overall exhibit style to create brand cohesion. She also sees a lot more creative play with interesting materials such as repur-

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posed pieces of old signage or marquee lights that can make for a “rich retro vibe,” as she puts it. “It seems more layering and depth is incorporated into wayfinding these days—it’s less and less just a simple, flat print of type-based instructions,” says Travis. “I think iconographic systems have gotten a lot more interesting as well.” As with all things signage, interactivity has made its way to exhibit and wayfinding design, in both material and style. “Technological ‘touches’ such as custom videos or slideshows are making displays more engaging,” says Travis. “Touchscreen apps are allowing viewers to engage in a brand story.” As display projects become more complex with the addition of new tech-

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nologies, specialized design skills become even more critical to the success of a project. “Structures have gotten more complex (and in some cases more collapsible/portable),” says Travis. “More and more surfaces can incorporate custom design, and digital technology has become an essential inclusion for certain companies as they represent themselves through large-scale visuals.” For more tips from Kristen Travis about exhibit design, be sure to turn to this month’s “Shop Talk” on page 72.

“Journey of a Dress” Exhibit Features Avery Dennison® Films In honor of the fortieth birthday of the wrap dress, Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) opened a year-long public exhibit featuring the iconic dress on January 11 in Los Angeles. A kick-off party was thrown in DVF’s honor at the exhibit, in the Wilshire May Company Building, on January 10 and streamed live on Avery Dennison digital products were used to create an integrated experience for visitors to “Journey of a Dress” with graphics on the walls, floors, and windows throughout the exhibit. Colorful, high-impact patterns and prints were digitally printed on Avery Dennison MPI 2121 (a highperformance calendered film) and installed on the floor throughout the exhibit. The vibrant patterns, featured throughout the exhibit, were decoinspired geometrics, modeled after work by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol. The famous printed artwork showcased in the historical building is fitting for the May Co. department building, owned by Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The floor graphics were protected with DOL 2080, a UL® certified for slip resistance, premium calendered overlaminate with a matte finish that offers UV protection and resistance to abrasion and scuffing. Wall graphics were printed on MPI 2903 Easy Apply™ and installed by Guild is Good, a design + build collective, with locations in Los Angeles and throughout the U.S. and the globe. The film has an opaque adhesive to ensure that any underlying graphics are completely covered after it has been applied to a surface. Avery Dennison products provided the perfect solution to change the bare, yet historical, warehouse, into a colorful celebration. Much of the May Co. department store was transformed with Avery Dennison vinyl. Even the windows of the once premier department store in Los Angeles, were covered in printed Avery Dennison SF

100-103 Ultra Clear film. Diane von Furstenberg is celebrating the wrap dress she created in 1974. Celebrities such as First Lady Michelle Obama and Amy Adams in American Hustle and everyday women, have worn the dress since its creation. The dresses often feature bright designs and patterns, like those that

were printed on the Avery Dennison materials for the walls and floors of the exhibit. Many photos of the show are featured on @DVF’s Instagram and its visitor’s pages. For photos of the “Journey of a Dress” exhibit, visit Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions - North America’s Facebook page.

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


A DA / B y Lo r i S h r i d h a r e / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

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Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

all Photos (ExcEPt whErE notEd): nova PolymErs.

of ADA signage.

Photo : advancE corP. (



hen it comes to designing and making ADA signage, the first thing you need to determine,

according to Charles J. Kelly, Jr., president of wholesale dealer/manufacturer Clarke Systems (, is how federal ADA regulations are interpreted in the client’s local municipality.

“ADA signage is part of the design, part of the built environment,” says Mike Santos, “and producing ADA signs with photopolymers is designed for high volume and high profitability.”

You will also need to find out what your customers’ expectations are. “We also urge [sign shops] to advise their clients about the importance of planning ahead and staying on schedule, since many of these signs are required for occupancy permits,” says Kelly. Kelly points out that: (a.) the architectural space and design elements normally drive the shapes of the signs, and (b.) the building materials chosen and consideration of the client’s brand identity affect the color choices. “The door frame and wall colors will provide the first basic clue, unless a monotone design has the two elements blended,” he says. “If the door frame is dark brown and the

“Plastics manufacturers have a palette of irregular surface textures, natural inlays, and color combinations that can be used as offsets to the primary layer of the sign,” says Charles J. Kelly, Jr. March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



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Other popular design options include changeable graphic inserts, frames, photos, and graphics laminated beneath a clear surface.

walls off-white, then a complementary sign color program would have the background brown and the text off-white.” Variations of decoration and the overall “theme” of the ADA signs will depend upon the type of project—corporate, health care, educational, retail, etc. “Decorative elements often are implemented using secondary backgrounds or very light watermark images, so as not to affect the legibility of the sign,” says Kelly, “especially in consideration of visually impaired persons. Photo images and illustration also provide backgrounds for this signage.” There is a growing demand for more creative applications that see regulationbased ADA formats showcased against multiple, colorful layers of shaped backgrounds. “A children’s hospital might require lively, happy colors,” says Kelly,

“while a law office dictates a more reserved or sophisticated approach.”

high-volume Photopolymer For ADA shops built around high volume, one engraving-alternative fabrication method is processing photopolymer substrates, which according to Mike Santos, director of sales and marketing at Nova Polymers (, allows a sign shop to produce 400 signs in a day. You will need a photopolymer processor, water, and film. “Design possibilities are virtually limitless,” says Santos, “due to the ability to create custom materials and designs.” One of the benefits of fabricating photopolymer (in comparison to engraving) is that the photopolymer process doesn’t change when a sign design requires more complex tactile and design elements. March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


“All tactile elements are photopolymer, including Braille, which streamlines the fabricating process and ultimately increases throughput and profitability of the shop,” says Santos.

Five Steps of Photopolymer








The process behind creating the signs is relatively simple: The photopolymer resin reacts to UV light and processes in tap water, allowing for high-resolution graphics and a clean, environmentally friendly processing environment. A CNC router cuts photopolymer panels to size. Step 1: ContaCt with Film negative. Place a high-density film negative on top of the photopolymer sheet. Step 2: expoSure with uv light. A bank of UV lamps shine down and pass through the clear areas of the film negative and expose the photopolymer material. Step 3: waSh in tap water. The unexposed photopolymer gets washed away during the washout process in plain tap water. The photopolymer effluent is 100 percent biodegradable and goes right down the drain. You are left with the exposed raised images. Step 4: Drying. Dry the moisture off the material. The photopolymer and the base PETG does not absorb moisture during the washout—drying is to evaporate any standing moisture left on the sheet. Step 5: poSt expoSure. The final step in processing photopolymer is a second exposure to fully cure, harden, and activate the photopolymer. A paint booth is required to properly paint the surface or second surface of the photopolymer panel, a hot stamp unit applies colored foils to the tactile areas of the photopolymer sign, and a work table should be used to assemble the other components of the sign (inserting the sign into a frame, applying adhesives, etc.).

In Touch With the Future As ADA signage continues to develop over the next decade, processes that incorporate efficiency and high production will continue to stay in demand. Dave Miller, global business director at Nova Polymers, adds that new technologies will continue to be incorporated into ADA signage. “We are embracing emerging technologies like QR codes and NFC (Near Field Communication),” he says, “for assistive devices that take ADA signage to a completely new level.” 62

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Autodesk Completes Acquisition of Delcam Autodesk, Inc., completed its acquisition of Delcam, one of the world’s leading suppliers of advanced computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, on February 6. Delcam will operate as a wholly owned, independently operated subsidiary of Autodesk, with no significant changes planned for Delcam’s business. Headquartered in San Rafael, California, Autodesk, Inc., is a world leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. Customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, and media and entertainment industries (including the last eighteen Academy Awards® winners for Best Visual Effects) use Autodesk software to design, visualize, and simulate their ideas. From design professionals, engineers, and architects in all of the Fortune 100 companies to digital artists, students, and hobbyists, Autodesk software is helping people unlock their creativity and solve important challenges. “Autodesk brings to Delcam increased financial strength, unparalleled expertise in design, and a long history of making technology accessible to broad audiences. Through sharing our technology and expertise, this transaction will transform industries and improve how the world is designed and made,” said Delcam Chief Executive Clive Martell. “By maintaining the basic structure of Delcam’s business, Autodesk is reflecting its trust in—and respect for—Delcam’s solutions, leadership, and organization. We are excited to come together and further the vision, development, and implementation of technology for digital manufacturing.” “Together with Delcam, we look forward to accelerating the development of a more comprehensive Digital Prototyping solution and delivering a better manufacturing experience,” said Buzz Kross, senior vice president for Design, Lifecycle, and Simulation products at Autodesk.

Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk (center), with (l-r) Glenn McMinn, President, Delcam North America; Clive Martell, Chief Executive, Delcam; Steve Hobbs, Development Director, Delcam; and Bart Simpson, Commercial Director, Delcam.

March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37



3A Composites USA . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 3M Commercial Graphics . . . . . . . . 7 Ability Plastics, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 AdamsTech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Advantage Sign Supply . . . . . . . . . 31 Allwood Signblanks . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 70 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 70 American Biltrite, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Anthony Warren Corp . . . . . . . . . . . 70 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Arris Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 AXYZ Automation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Brinks Mfg . (Van Ladder) . . . . . . . 54 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Cab Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Clarke Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Clarke Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Clarke Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Clearpath/Rowmark, Inc . . . . . . . . 60 Coastal Enterprises/Precision Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Delcam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 FDC Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Floyd & Associates LLC . . . . . . . . . 19 Gemini, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 GH Imaging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Gravotech/Gravograph . . . . . . . . . 68 Gyford Productions . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Hartlauer Bits, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 J Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 LMT Onsrud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Manitex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Master Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Matthews Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


InfoDirect #

38 MBS-Standoffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 39 Mimaki USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5


InfoDirect #



42 National Banner Co ., Inc . . . . . . . . 71 43 Orbus Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71


44 Orbus Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 45 Ornamental Post


46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66


Companies in Sign Show

40 Monarch Metal Tabs . . . . . . . . . . . 51 41 MultiCam, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Pizazz Display Systems Limited . . . 3 Principal LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Rapid Tac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Roland DGA Corporation . . . . . . . . 45 Scott Sign Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Signs365 .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 Sign America, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Sign Bracket Store By Hooks and Lattice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Small Balls, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Stamm Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 TRC Electronics, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Trivantage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Universal Laser Systems, Inc . . . . 32 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 VKF Renzel USA Corp . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Wilkie Mfg ., LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3


69 71 73 74 75

Foliopin .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Gemini, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Gilman Brothers Company . . . . . . 14 Kern Laser Systems . . . . . . . . . . . 12 MultiCam, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Roland DGA Corporation . . . . . . . . 12 SignPro Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Stylmark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Value Vinyls, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

January March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


A w n i n g s / By B u t c h “ S u p e r f r o g ” A nto n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Lettering Awnings

A cat’s eye view of an awning/canopy redo.

Over the years, i’ve hand-painted and screen-printed lettering onto a lot of canvas and Sunbrella® materials. Driving around here in northern Minnesota and checking out my work, these letters and graphics on awnings have lasted years outdoors through hot summers and extreme winters. More recently though, I’ve been using heat transfer materials to add letters to awnings. These materials add a whole new realm to lettering—in that it adds speed and profits.


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Unlike screen printing, I don’t have to make a screen and then set it up to make the lettering. Instead I just design it on the computer and cut and weed it just like vinyl. The tricky part is getting it onto the awning. One of the requirements of using heat transfer material is the need for heat in some form. I’ve used everything from hand irons to a heat press. Whether you’re working with the awning maker or building your own, you need to apply the lettering before you assemble the awning. Although I haven’t figured out yet how to get the awning into the hot press to apply the graphics once it’s in the frame, I have learned how to apply pre-assembled sections in the hot press using a Teflon® sheet. At first it’s a little daunting, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be good to go. (Note: Always do test samples first.) One of the unique qualities of the heat transfer material is the crispness of the letters—they’re so clean and sharp looking. Also the material can be overlaid: One color on top of the other provides a unique look. The mil thickness is minimal compared to screen printing or painting. The gold or silver material is like real gold leaf or silver leaf (a no-no on awning materials). I’ve always used SEF Flexcut Sticky

heat transfer material, which comes in thirty-two colors. But now with a heat transfer material called Tatoo by SEF, we can digitally print onto the material and apply it to the awning the same as the Flexcut sticky. You can design fullcolor graphics (chiseled letters, logos, etc.) and apply. The trick is not to make it so gaudy that one can’t read it. It’s important to select the correct product for the fabric material you’re applying to and use the correct heat setting. (Note: In addition to Flexcut Sticky and Tatoo, there’s also Flexcut Sweet, Flexcut Sticky Nylon, Tatoo Nylon, Tatoo SBB, etc., so always do a test piece first.) The heat settings are different for different fabrics. T-shirt-type material is usually 330 degrees for 15 to 17 seconds, whereas polyester/nylon sport shirts are more sensitive to heat and usually are 240 degrees at 13 to 15 seconds. Through testing, I discovered the appropriate press time for an awning was 330 degrees at 40 seconds, and I peeled it hot. I also found that if you apply a sec-


The new lettering and logo were designed and laid out to cover as much of the original lettering as possible. White Ronan Aquacote paint matched the shade of the older letters. ond color (like gold on top of a black), you can go back to the normal setting of 330 degrees at 17 seconds; however let it cool before removing the hot mask. But even this heat transfer material has its limitations. The first is size. Although you can do lettering or graphics up to sixteen

Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

to eighteen inches rather comfortably, anything beyond 16-by-20 inches (the size of the heat press platen) is difficult to do. I haven’t found any data on durability yet, so I ran it through the washing machine twelve times on different settings (from cold water to hot). I was surprised how well it held up without any deterioration. But then, there are those jobs that you can’t screen print or heat transfer. I was recently contacted by an organization called The Cat’s Cradle Shelter, which rescues abandoned and discarded cats. They had bought a half-moon awning from another company that had gone out of business. It was six feet tall, eight feet wide, and six feet deep on its existing frame. They’re a non-profit and therefore on a limited budget—thus the used awning. This awning was maroon in color and had white lettering on the front. They had been to other sign companies and all of them wanted to replace the awning on the frame with new fabric and lettering (which was $2,000 dollars or more). Of course, that didn’t fit into their budget. Looking over it, I noticed that the material on the awning was still in good shape and didn’t need replacing. However the lettering had definitely suffered sun deterioration. Of course, the quandary here is that one can’t remove the painted lettering without damaging the fabric. Being an old-school sign painter, I

When painting over old lettering on any surface, you’re going to need to apply three coats of paint. Pounce patterns and vinyl mask can help you get these just right. knew exactly how to solve the problem: Just hand-letter over it! The all-white lettering said “BURRIT 818.” The word “BURRIT” was twelve inches high and arched over the “818,” which was twenty-four inches high. I designed the new lettering and logo to go over the old lettering and cover as much of the old lettering as possible. I made a pounce pattern for the cat logo and a vinyl mask for the lettering. I filled in the lettering using a fitch brush and Ronan Aquacote white paint. (Note: When painting over old lettering, you need three coats of paint.)

After I blocked in the cat and lettering, I started to lay in the color. In order to knock out more of the old lettering, I added a heavy black outline and shadow to the lettering. Next I finished painting the cat with lots of color. I even touched up the old graphics with maroon paint to match the awning. It was a great challenge, and I saved them over 60 percent in costs. To show their appreciation, they even threw in a cat, and I named it “Squeegee.” To contact Butch with comments or questions, email March 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



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B y Lo r i S h r i d h a r e

Firesign Design of Portland, Oregon

Tips on Exhibit Design


n page 52, we profiled Kristen Dicharry Travis, who runs Firesign Design of Portland, Oregon, about the art of exhibit design. “Exhibit design is such an immersive way to tell a story,” she says. “The viewer is surrounded by the information—literally inside of it. “So it’s a wonderful opportunity to play with design approaches that wouldn’t work as well in a static, small-scale print piece.” But exhibit design can present unique challenges. Travis works by a few key principles: Consistency: “It’s easy, with such a massive design project, to get tired of using the same fonts and colors over and over,” she says. “But the temptation to continually introduce new colors and fonts is one that should be resisted. A consistent but creative style throughout the exhibit is attractive, professional, and easier to digest. A good plan and a style guide are a must. “However presence of consistency does not mean lack of variety. Good exhibits include a variety of displays and ‘stations,’ each with styling that’s appropriate to that particular section of the exhibit. This allows for appeal to various audiences—there should be a little something for everyone when it comes to designing for public space.” Clarity: “Another temptation with large areas of space is to fill up all the negative space. This

can quickly result in a jumbled mess on the wall, which will encourage viewers to walk right by. “Clear, easily accessible layouts with good balance are important. The graphics should be engaging enough to draw the viewer in—but not overwhelming.” Proper sizing: “Exhibit and display work requires large font sizes for quick and easy legibility from across the room but also to ensure the work meets ADA requirements. “Sizing in general can be a bit disorienting when designing for exhibits and tradeshow displays; it’s really important to have accurate measurements for the final display or booth up front, so that one can maintain proper proportions throughout the design process.” Layering elements: “This is a great way to create depth and interest for viewers moving through the space. They’re going to view things from multiple angles, so designing something that’s interesting from each angle (but also as a whole) is important.” Interactivity: “The exhibit companies I’ve worked with do amazing things with interactive elements in the exhibit architecture, and those are some of the most fun sections to design for. “A moving object that will be handled by many viewers has to be interesting to look at, instructive, and fun to hold and play with.”


Sign Builder Illustrated // March 2014

Photos: (toP) sPot color studio; (bottom) isa.

Some of the best design advice on display.

The Road Ahead   

Times have changed, so has  the Sign industry and the way  we do business. With new  government regulations  Wilkie helps you keep ahead  of the curve with the new  Wilkie innovative products  with the sign professional in  mind.  The Wilkie Model 52XLR is a  prime example of this  52’  two man rotating platform  with a storable jib winch in  the basket and a mainline  winch that stores when not in  use mounted on a non CDL  truck, Wilkie helps you keep  ahead of the curves in life  that come your way.   Wilkie Mfg., L.L.C.  405‐235‐0920 Phone  405‐236‐3324 Fax 

Sign Builder Illustrated March 2014  

This issue features stories on holding an open house, unique wraps, UV LED printers, stand offs, exhibits and displays, ADA signage, awnings...

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